Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Our Road Trip

Imagine more than 4 times the population of the United States traveling at one time! If you do this, you will understand why it was impossible for us to get train tickets on the last day of the holiday. Everyone goes back to the city on Sunday afternoon, so they can go back to work the next morning. We had planned to go and see a family that is in our branch. We wanted to see where they are, see the tombs there, but especially have church with them on Sunday in their little group (just the five of them). They live in Xuzhou, not to be confused with Suzhou (the town which you probably visited with us if you have come to China). Xuzhou is a small industrial town of around 7 million about four hours north of Nanjing. Well, Mike DOES have his Chinese driver's license, though he really hates to use it. Not many things frighten my 6 foot 5 inch husband. But, driving in China makes him a little skiddish. We decided to drive the car there ourselves. We didn't want to make Jiang have to work this holiday. He deserved time off.

Mike printed off a very non-detailed map from the internet. The girls had come home from Xi'an the night before, so we all piled into the van. It was my job to navigate us through all of the craziness they call road signs. Most of the road was a nice toll-road, and fairly straight-forward. Not too many cars. But, the signs are very confusing, and all I can figure, is that they think differently than we do out west. Once we actually got onto the right road, we did very well. There were beautiful farms all along the way. They don't have the big tractors like you see in the U.S. It's more the old style.

Road Trip!

I thought this was worthy of inclusion because we've never gotten gas by ourselves before! Well, here in China.

This sign was on the outside of the bathrooms at the rest stop. We totally agree that you have to have a sense of humor to use them, especially if you recently had hip surgery and aren't as flexible as you used to be!

We have never felt so welcome at a rest stop!

We arrived safely in about four hours. The Priestley's were very gracious, and we had lunch, and then went to the Han tombs. These are small warriors, also made of terracota. It was very interesting, the most interesting part being the actual tombs that we were able to walk into. They were made of huge, hand-cut stones. They were so smooth and straight! It was a neat thing to see. The next day, we went to do some rock-climbing. It was lots of fun, and everyone, except me because of my hip, tried it. I was really proud of the children and how brave they were. The girls have rock-climbed before in a gym, but this was the first time on real rocks! It was so great of the Priestleys to take us. What a great activity.

Here is Emporer King Chu Liu Zhu (who reigned between 128 BC-116 BC) The tomb was made for him and his wife in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD)
This is a jade burial armor that was made for the king.

Pottery found in the tombs

We got a cart to take us around the huge park because of me.

If you can't read this, it says "Keep silence"

These gentlemen asked to have photos with the girls.

That little red dot is Jay. Way to climb!

Caitlin is ready!

Here is Eli, repelling down after his climb.

Coli-way to climb

See how close Rach is to the top?

Here we are with Tammy, Ron, Derek, Emily and Danni Priestley.

The next day was fast Sunday, so we had fast and testimony meeting with them. It was a really sweet experience with them in their living-room, just the two families, sharing our testimonies. We had a wonderful time with all of them and really appreciate their hospitality. We did well getting home, except as we got close to Nanjing, they had some crazy signs again, and we ended up going the very long way around. It took over an hour extra to get home. We were just glad to arrive back. At one point, we had no more ping-ying (Chinese written in the western alphabet) signs, and just had Chinese charactors. We knew we were out of our league with this! We immediately back-tracked.

We had a great time, and I was quite impressed with Mike as he was able to swerve around people, carts and animals suddenly showing up out of the bushes on the sides of the freeway. Unfortunately for Rachel, this made it impossible for her to practice her driving skills and get several hours in. It was a great road trip.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rachel, Nicole, and Caitlin in Xi'an

This National Day holiday, Rachel, Nicole and Caitlin were able to go and visit the Starfish Foster-home in Xi'an. We met Amanda, the founder, a couple of years ago when she brought a couple of sweet little kids to Nanjing for cleft-palate surgery. She has devoted all of her time and energy to taking care of children who need medical attention. She works hard to get them the medical care they need and get things in order for adoption. When Amanda was here, she invited Rachel and Nicole to come and help at the foster home when they could. I felt that this year, the girls were old enough to go on their own. Amanda had close to 20(yes in one apartment) children there while the girls were there. They stayed for one week and worked close to 12 hours a day...holding babies, and helping change and feed them. They each came home wanting us to adopt them all! What a fantastic chance for them to fall in love with these children. Here is what they had to say about their experience:

My Orphanage experience:


When we, that is Rachel, Caitlin and I, arrived in Xian to help those little orphans I was surprised by how excited I was! We arrived in the normal sized apartment and were greeted with cries, chaos and the smell of milk and poopy diapers everywhere. It was very overwhelming, but at the same time as weird as it may sound, comforting ( I think it is the result of my “motherly instincts” us ladies were born with or something, because I cant come up with any other reason for why a poopy diaper would make me happy). The babies were more than adorable! For instance there is Sean who loves the word "banana" and gets ecstatic when the wiggles is turned on ( even though they watch it about 100 times a day!) and then there is Katelyn who won't look at you, but when you hold her, she stops squirming and glances at you from time to time when you aren’t looking. The nannies did most of the dirty work, like feeding, clothing, and changing the diapers of the babies,( we did do a fair amount though) but we had what I think was the most important job, to show love to them. After living in the big city orphanage where it is one nanny to 27 babies, where there is over 600 of them, you wouldn't expect them to be shown too much love. My heart was full of love and service the whole time! The love I had for those babies was overwhelming me almost to the point of tears. My respect for all the things parents do for us expanded greatly. I don’t think I could have come up with a better way to spend my vacation then serving those cute little orphans! *I am still working on getting my parents to adopt at least one! (if not all 19 :-P but that will take a little more convincing!)*


Going to Amanda’s Orphanage made me think more about how much God loves Each of us and how much he cares about us and those adorable orphans. This has been a great experience because we grew a lot of love for them in the short week we were there. And we were very sad when we had to leave. I also gained more appreciation for the mothers who have children and need to take care of them. Even though I’m not a mother and I won't be one for a while. Haha. I figured out that it is a lot of hard work (especially when all of them want to have attention and want to be held all the time) But it is worth it!! At the end of each day my sisters and I would be so tired, but every night I wasn’t upset. I was happy because I knew that it was to help. And it was Fun!!!
I LOVE those little kids! And i am so happy that I had the chance to go and help out at the Orphanage in Xi’an.


Xi'an was the most amazing experience ever! I had so much fun! Getting to know the kids was the coolest thing. I grew to love them all like my own kids. They all have the sweetest spirits and they all have such personality. I learned a lot about mothering and about how hard it is sometimes. We were really exhausted most of the time. But it was way worth it. I miss them all already. Now I just have to convince Mom and Dad we need 20 new family members!